Doing Good by Stealth: The Philanthropy and Service of Annie Burr Lewis


The many tributes that poured in following the death of Annie Burr Auchincloss Lewis at the age of fifty-six characterize her as quiet, interested, generous, wise, calm, devoted, modest, tasteful, beauty-loving (especially in flowers and nature), unselfish, gentle, gracious, thoughtful, tactful, courageous, and more. Her husband Wilmarth S. Lewis wrote in his dedication of the Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence the year following her death, “That she was balanced and generous was immediately obvious to all who met her, but her modesty concealed great knowledge and insight. These became evident when one went to her for help and advice, although she gave them so quietly that one might not realize how much she had given.”

As Annie Burr’s experience with philanthropic endeavors grew, so did her confidence and competence in serving in meaningful ways. She was more than a prominent name on letterhead; she took on roles of responsibility. She chaired committees, held positions of leadership, networked, wrote reports and letters, and contributed money to move initiatives forward and enable goals to be met.